We’ve all heard or asked the question:
“How can God determine the outcome of everything yet grant us free will?”
At it’s core, this is a “Man’s Free Will vs. God’s Ultimate Control” (or Calvinism vs. Arminianism) debate.We will discuss this further below, but let’s look for a moment at why we debate, even argue, over this subject, and truly give Satan the upper hand…
Though I can say I have personally studied and arrived at a balance right between the two… (what a shock -”moderation”), I continue to test this position and remain teachable and open to more insight God may have to download. But let’s look at what Paul has to say about men that “choose sides” when it comes to man’s position and opinion:
Doesn’t Paul himself rebuke those who were claiming to be “of” someone other than Jesus Christ? And yet, a mere phrase; “Calvin is my guy…”, “I’m an Arminian”, “Scofield rocks!” begins to move away from spiritual balance between schools of thought, and moves dangerously close to being “of” someone other than Jesus Christ.
Please understand… commentaries, books, historical writings and insight from great men of God such as Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon, Scofield are a wealth of information and in themselves powerful tools for spiritual maturity and knowledge. But when we begin to elevate a man’s opinion, writing or insight over that of the Word, we tread dangerous ground, and that’s exactly where the enemy wants us -vulnerable, and we may not even know it. Eventually becoming divided over opinion and not devoted to the inerrant and accurate Word of God.
Paul viewed this division over one man being more accurate or “right” than another as immature and fleshly:
1 Corinthians 3:2-5 says:
“ 2 I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able, 3 because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people? 4 For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not [typical] men? 5 So, what is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.”
Man’s opinion is man’s opinion, but insight is a precious gift from God. However, Christians who desire to grow in Christ are still born of flesh and saved by grace, and forever in Satan’s cross-hairs to be deceived. So, man’s opinion (writings) can range from dead-on accurate to total heresy, and anywhere in between. Man’s writings can tainted by cultural up-bringing, written with wrong motives or simple inaccurate assertion, but are never to be viewed as Scripture.
All of man’s opinion must be weighed against the Word, so we must know our Bibles!
Fresh insight comes from the God to us through our unwavering devotion to studying His Word! Yet, it is so easy to get caught up in someone else’s insight, often hundred’s of years old -though still relevant in numerous ways, God wants to inspire you and I afresh through HIS Word first. Let’s keep our priorities in line and go to the Bible before anything else.
Though we don’t end up trusting man’s writings and opinion more the Bible overnight, Satan is not in a hurry to deceive us, and will use whatever means possible to bump us off track and render us ineffective -even Biblical principles tainted by man’s opinion.
I have spoken with many older people who, over the decades, have built a rampart of a defense around their position or opinion on Biblical principles, family ideals, political views, etc., and often they don’t even know or remember why they believe what they believe, but are still in captivity to Satan’s oldest trick; feed man’s pride and leave him alone to do the rest… “Well, I’ve always believed…” or “NO one’s gonna change my mind on THIS!”.
Please hear my heart on this…
Though God does give insight to us to share with each other, we can so easily fall into the trap of trusting commentary over Scripture.
DON’T let the enemy move you further and further away from Biblical truth by dangling man’s opinion in front of you as a juicier piece of meat than the Word. Calvin, Luther, Strong, Scofield -all excellent… but it is OUR responsibility to “test” those teachers, writers, pastors in authority over us so we may know if we are listening to a false teacher (1 John 4:1), and never arrive at the wrong finish line, where we find more fulfillment in man’s opinion than the Word itself.
Now, with balance between what man says and what the Word says, let’s look at
“Sovereignty Always Determines Outcome”
How God can grant free will to mankind while remaining in complete control over the outcome of His sovereign plan.